World View

Jonah: “Enemy”

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It’s always refreshing to see the “bad guys” in life get what they deserve, but in the economy of God’s grace, your enemy isn’t who you think it is.

1. Read

Jonah 3:10-4:3 [NLT] “When God saw what (the people of Nineveh) had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened. This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. …Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if whatI predicted will not happen.”

In Jonah’s day, the Assyrians of Nineveh were the “bad guys,” and Jonah was really hoping they’d get the Sodom and Gomorrah treatment.

  • Think of a few people, groups or organizations that feel like enemies of the church, or of you as a Christian. Based on their actions, what kind of judgment (in this life and the next) do they deserve? 
  • How would that make the human side of you feel?
  • Is that God’s preferred outcome for their lives?

2. Challenge

Jonah 4:11 [NLT] “Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals,” (God replied). “Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

Luke 6:35-36 [NLT] “…(God) is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

Through the lens of God’s grace, no human is the enemy. Hell is. God’s greatest desire for the antagonists in your life is not to nuke them, but to guide them back to repentance (genuine life change) by showing kindness and compassion.

  • For those people / groups you listed, what are some ways you or the church as a whole could show them unexpected kindness and compassion?
  • Coupled with an unwavering standard of God’s truth, how do you think these acts of compassion would be received, vs a picket line or boycott?
  • Which approach better fits God’s long-term goal for those people?

3. Prayer Focus

Spend time praying for your “enemies.” Ask God to bless them, even though they don’t deserve it. Ask the Holy Spirit to put love in your heart for them, and to use you to extend His kindness – and truth – to them.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: How To Survive A Night With The Lions”

1. Power Verse

Psalm 55:16 “But I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me.”

What’s Up: “Building Good Character Makes Me Strong!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Spy Kids”. In this series, we’re learning from the story of Daniel!

2. Discussion

Before you start, double some grocery bags and fill them with enough books or canned goods so your children can’t lift the bag easily. Then call your children in and ask them to pick up the bag. When they can’t, take one item out and ask them to lift it again. Continue doing this until the bag is easy for them to lift.

  • If you knew that sometime in the future your life would depend on you being able to pick up something this heavy, what would you do? (Some type of weight training where they would start with smaller weights and work up to heavier ones; having someone train them.)
  • You’re going to face many types of problems in life. Some will be easy to overcome, but others may not be. All of the problems will be easier to face if you prepare ahead of time by learning to rely on God.
  • If you never pray, read the Bible, or worship God, how easy do you think it would be to rely on Him when you have a problem?
  • Do you think you could pray or worship for an hour without stopping?
  • How do you learn to pray or worship for longer periods of time?

By starting small and building good spiritual habits now, you’ll have the strength you need to face any problems that may come your way.

3. Prayer Focus

Ask God to help you develop those spiritual habits so you can rely on Him when you face problems.

Jonah: Lost Cause

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Have you ever written someone off as a lost cause? Maybe you wrote yourself off! Let’s be honest – if you look from a human perspective, some people are so far from faith in God it would take a miracle to change them… and that’s exactly what God has in mind.

1. Read

Jonah 3:4-5 [NLT] “On the day Jonah entered the city (Nineveh), he shouted to the crowds: ‘Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!’ The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.”

If you asked an 8th century B.C. Jew who the most unlikely people on the planet were to receive God’s mercy, the Assyrians of Nineveh would’ve topped the list. They were right in the cross-hairs of God’s judgment – but they repented powerfully.

  • Name an individual who seems like a lost cause spiritually. Now, think of a few people groups who fit that description. Do you think God has given up on reaching them? Do you act like He has?

2. Challenge

Jonah 3:4-5 [NLT] “The people of Nineveh believed God’s message…”

Jonah didn’t have angelic vocal chords. It wasn’t his presentation that changed the hearts of a wicked city, it was God’s message. When we write people off as too far gone, we do it with our abilities and strategies in mind. When the Holy Spirit is involved, though, no one is beyond his reach, even the lost causes.

  • You can certainly tell people about God’s grace, but what are some other ways His message can be communicated through you?
  • God didn’t prophecy doom to dishearten the Ninevites; He did it to give them a chance to change (yes – even the worst of the worst!) How does God’s dealing with Nineveh affect the way you view His heart for the lost causes that you listed?

3. Prayer Focus

Talk to God and thank Him for coming to rescue you – even while you were a sinner. Ask Him to help you see those “lost causes” in your life the way He does – as people in need of His message and life-changing power. Then, ask Him to use your life to present that message.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: Where’s Daniel When You Need Him?”

1. Power Verse

Proverbs 12:26 “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

What’s Up: “I Will Choose To Have Godly Friends!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Spy Kids”. In this series, we’re learning from the story of Daniel!

2. Discussion

Explain to your children that their lives are like a NASCAR race. Ask them what the goal of a race car driver is. Then explain to them that winning the race of life means living eternally with God. However, in order to win the race, we all need some help.

Every race car driver has a pit crew that keeps his or her car in the best shape possible during the race.

  • What are some of the responsibilities of the pit crew?
  • Would the driver win the race if she had to take care of all those responsibilities by herself? Why not?
  • Can we win the race if we don’t have anyone helping us?

The crew chief is in charge of the entire crew and remains in constant contact with the driver by using microphones and headphones.

  • What kind of person should be the crew chief in our life?
  • Ask your children who owns the car the driver is racing. (Some children may think the driver owns the car, but actually a company owns it.)
  • Who owns our lives?
  • Could we win the race if we didn’t have an owner?
  • Who ultimately should get the credit when we win the race?

Talk about how important it is for us to have people in our lives (“Daniels,” as we learned this week) who will help us win our race.

3. Prayer Focus

Ask God to help you have a good pit crew in your life. Thank Him for owning your life and giving you everything you need to win.

I’m All In!

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Have you ever been the recipient of unfair criticism? Ever been the one to give it? Not all criticism is constructive, and if we’re not careful, a critical spirit can make us miss out on a lot of good around us.

1. Read

2 Samuel 6:15-16 [NLT] “So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns. But as the Ark of the LORD entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she was filled with contempt for him.”

When you become a spectator, you’re a lot more prone to criticize those who serve God with gusto. David’s dancing probably would’ve looked a lot different if Michal had been in the crowd.

  • In church, who would you identify with more – the one doing or the one watching?
  • What are some expressions of worship that seem goofy or over-the-top to you? What motives do you think are behind those actions? 
  • What are some other possible motives for them?

2. Challenge

2 Samuel 6:23 [NLT] “So Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless throughout her entire life.”

Michal witnessed a season of unparalleled blessing, as God’s presence came to her home town – yet, she missed out on it by standing back and criticizing. Don’t suffer the same fate! Get engaged, and give people the benefit of the doubt – there are a lot of great ways to express praise and thanks to God.

  • What’s your favorite way to express your heart to God? How might that look to someone who was completely unfamiliar with Christianity?
  • Sometimes people are in the wrong, and a challenge to change is just what they need. How is that different from Michal’s experience?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to express your heart to God in whatever way comes to your mind. Go all in! He deserves it.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

“Spy Kids: Do The Right Thing!”

1. Power Verse

1 Peter 1:15 “…be holy in all you do.”

What’s Up: “Even If I’m All Alone In The Fight, I’m Gonna Choose To Do What’s Right!”

This week, we continue our series called, “Spy Kids”. In this series, we’re learning from the story of Daniel and his friends about remaining faithful to God no matter what!

2. Activity

Read the following scenarios and let your children answer the questions:

A kid in your class has somehow managed to get a copy of the answers to a major math test you’re having later in the week and will give a copy to anyone who wants one. Most of your friends took a copy, but you can’t decide whether to take one.

  • What are some short-term consequences of taking one? (You’ll pass the test, your friends will accept you, you won’t have to study.)
  • What are some possible long-termconsequences? (Your teacher may find outand fail you, you’ll feel guilty, you may not learn what you need to know for future tests.)

Your friends have started calling people names that you’re pretty sure your parents wouldn’t approve of.

  • What are short-term consequences if you start using the word, too?(You’ll feel like you’re part of the group, no one will tease you for not using the word, you’ll feel cool.)
  • What are some possible long-term consequences? (Your parents will find out and punish you, you’ll hurt someone’s feelings, you may start using other words you shouldn’t.)

3. Discuss

It’s normal to feel tempted to do what everyone else is doing even when you know it’s wrong. That’s why it’s important to think about the consequences of our actions before we do them.

4. Prayer Focus

Ask God to give your children strength to fight temptation and to help them see the consequences of their actions.

A New Life- Part 2

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When God revolutionizes your life, it’s not something to keep to yourself – this new life is meant to be shared! The people in our world who are spiritually lost need to hear the gospel and encounter the Holy Spirit, but they’ll never accept a Christianity that’s contradicted by your lifestyle.

1. Read

John 6:44 [NLT] “…For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me…”

There’s a portion of coming to faith that’s totally up to the Holy Spirit. Unless people have a spiritual encounter with God, they won’t be able to accept His salvation. We can’t conjure up a “God-experience” – that’s between God and each person.

Romans 10:17 [ESV]“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

There’s also a portion of coming to faith that requires encountering God’s word. Church is a great place for this, but it’s not the only place. The Bible is more readily available than it has ever been, but spiritually lost people need a reason to look to it for help.

2. Challenge

1 Peter 2:12 [NLT] “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.”

The final piece of the puzzle is up to you! Your day-to-day, real-world application of God’s character will either point people toward faith, or away from it. If you’ve been given new life in Christ, let it shine! 

  • Think of a few gaps between God’s standard for living and the norms that our culture has drifted to. Where do you fall on that spectrum? How could your obedience to God in those areas point people to Him? How could your disobedience sour people on the gospel?
  • Think of a spiritually lost friend or family member: If you never mentioned church, prayer or reading the Bible to them, would they know (or assume) you’re a Christian? What would be their biggest clues? What things from your life might make them second-guess their assumption?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank God for drawing you to Himself, for giving you access to the Bible, and for placing Christians around you to give you an example of a changed life. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you on track this week, so that your life points people toward Him.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Don’t Miss the Boat!

1. Power Verse

Isaiah 25:4 “O Lord, you are a refuge from the storm.”

What’s Up: “Through The Rain And Through The Storm, God Will Keep Me Safe And Warm!”

This week, we continue the series called, “NOAH: Surviving The Storms Of Life.” In this lesson, we learn what our response should be when God gets us through the storms of life.

2. Activity

(Set Up: Find age appropriate pictures of the aftermath of storms that your child might have heard of before. For example, Hurricane Katrina, a tornado, or local storm, etc.)

Show your child the pictures of the damages of the storm and talk with them about its impact.

  • How do you think you would have felt if you’d been in the storm?
  • How do you think the people felt after the storm was over?

3. Discussion

During our lives, we’ll go through storms, too. Maybe not like this storm, but there will be times when we face tough situations and problems that may seem impossible. God promises to be with us during these times, though, and He’s the one who gives us the strength to survive.

  • What should we do when we have made it through the storms of life?
  • God is the one who helps us through our storms. When we have made it through, we should praise Him and celebrate what He has done in our lives.

4. Prayer Focus

Lead your child in a time of prayer and worship. Encourage them to worship if they are in a storm or if they aren’t in a storm. Thank God together for what He has done and what He will do in your lives.

A New Life

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New life in Christ is something we celebrate, but what effects should that change have in our day to day life? We can take a few cues from Jesus’ example.

1. Read

Luke 6:12 [ESV] “…he (Jesus) went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.”

A new life is a spiritual one, one that keeps us in communion with God. Jesus knew His time on earth was limited, but He didn’t let that sense of urgency keep Him from spending the time He needed to in prayer.

  • Prayer takes time. What’s the biggest competition for your prayer time?

  • What are some ways you could help (or force) yourself to take more time for prayer and worship?

2. Challenge

Luke 6:13 [ESV] “And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles…”

A new life is a relational one. The God-life was never meant to be done alone. Jesus recruited the twelve not only to help and support Him, but so that He could invest in them and prepare them for ministry.

  •  List 3 or 4 aspects of the God-life – things God expects of every believer once they’re saved. Which of these would benefit from being in community with other Christians? Get specific, how would relationships help?

  • What’s one or more ways that God has specifically called you to minister (serve Him by sharing and showing the gospel)? How would your ability to fulfill God’s assignment benefit from being in relationship with others? Be specific, and write it down. Are you really giving God your best if you don’t invest in relationships to gain these benefits?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank God for the new life He’s given you. Commit to using your time and relationships to maximize your effectiveness for Him.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Don’t Miss the Boat!

1. Power Verse

Genesis 7:5 “And Noah obeyed all that God commanded him.”

What’s Up:  “Stick With God And You Won’t Miss The Boat!”

This week, we continue the series called, “NOAH: Surviving The Storms of Life”. In this lesson, we learn that when we follow God and obey His commands, we will find miracles taking place in our own lives.

2. Read

Genesis 6:9-22  Noah was a godly man. He walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons. The earth was very sinful in God’s eyes. It was full of people who did mean and harmful things. God saw how sinful the earth had become. All its people were living very sinful lives. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to everyone. They have filled the earth with their harmful acts. I am certainly going to destroy them and the earth. So make yourself an ark out of cypress wood. Cover it with tar inside and out. The ark has to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it. Put a door in one side of the ark. I am going to bring a flood on the earth. It will destroy all life under the sky. But I will make my covenant with you. You will go into the ark. Your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives will enter it with you.  Bring a male and a female of every living thing into the ark. They will be kept alive with you.  Two of every kind of bird will come to you. Two of every kind of animal will also come to you. And so will two of every kind of creature that moves along the ground. All of them will be kept alive with you. Take every kind of food that you will need. Store it away as food for you and them.”  Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

3. Discussion

  • What did God say He was going to send to the earth? Why?
  • Do you think it was hard for Noah to believe a flood was going to happen? 

  • Did he still obey God?

It wasn’t easy for Noah and his family to trust God and believe that there was actually going to be a flood that would destroy the whole Earth. It had never flooded like that before. But despite the difficulty, Noah and his family obeyed. They were saved from the flood and delivered from complete annihilation.

Have you ever felt like God wanted you to do something that was hard? Obeying God can be hard – especially when we are going through a hard time in life. But when we obey, He keeps us safe.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray with your child if they are currently facing a storm in their life. Pray that now and in the future they would find safety in their Comforter and God would provide a miracle.

We are Better Together- Part 2

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You and the church are only healthy and fully-functional when you’re connected to other Christians. We’re better together! The problem is, connection doesn’t happen by default. In order to live up to God’s best for us, we’ve got to make the effort to live a connected life.

1. Read

Hebrews 10:24 [NLT] Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”

Being relationally connected to other Christians takes effort – energy – on your end. Connecting God’s way means finding ways to be a support to others. Don’t just have friends, function as a friend to the people around you. 

  • Think for a few minutes – what are ways people in the church motivate each other to live the God-life better? What are some ways you’ve benefited from the influence of other Christians?

  • Who are the people you’re connected to relationally in the church? What are some ways the Holy Spirit could use you to motivate them to acts of love and good works?

2. Challenge

Hebrews 10:25 [NLT] “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Connecting to people requires an intentional effort – there will always be other ways to spend your time and energy, and those other things are constantly vying for your attention. If you want to feel connected to people in the church, you’re going to need to make it a priority.

  • What are some otherwise-good things that can push connection points (like Life Groups, Serving Teams, eating out with friends, etc) down on your priority list?

  • What are some things that you might have to do less, or drop altogether, to make space for connecting to people?

  • What are some ways that those competing activities could be modified to become relationship-building, church-people-connecting activities?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes to thank God for the support and encouragement He brings to you through individuals in the church. Be specific – use their names! Ask the Holy Spirit to help you prioritize connection so you can have that kind of positive impact on others.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Living for God in a Wicked World

1. Power Verse

Hosea 14:9 “The paths of the LORD are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them.”

What’s Up: “I’m Gonna Walk With God Every Day, Living Righteous Is The Only Way!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “NOAH: Surviving The Storms Of Life”. In this series, we will look at one of the most famous guys in the Bible – Noah! In this lesson, we learn how we can live a life that stands out for God just like Noah.

2. Activity

Set Up: Gather several of the same object and one object that is different. For example: several candies of the same color and one of a different color; several marshmallows and one chocolate chip.

Allow your children to observe the objects.

  • What do you notice about these things?
  • How could you tell one was different? (i.e. it looked different, it felt different, etc.)

3. Discussion

As Christians, we are supposed to be like the one object. In the world, there is a lot of evil, a lot of people doing the wrong thing. God wants us to be different than everyone else in the world. He wants us to stand out and choose to do what’s right. When we do, others can quickly tell there is a difference in us just like you were able to quickly tell the difference in these objects.

If we are going to live a life that is different, we have to stay close to God. We can stay close to God by praying, reading the Bible, and worshipping. By doing these things, we can live for Him in a sinful world.

4. Prayer Focus

Pray with your children that God will help them to live their lives so others will see a difference in them. Talk about ways that your family already spends time with God and/or discuss ways your family can make it a new priority.

Lenses- Part 3

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lenses 10

Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

All of us were born with a “me” – shaped lens, a world view where the our values and decisions are based on our physical urges, desires, and what benefits us. When we come to God, we get access to a new way of looking at things – a “God” – lens, where our values and decisions are subjected to His ways and His plans. The trouble is, the “me” lens doesn’t just go quietly…

1. Discussion 

Romans 8:6-7 [NLT]  “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.”

The “me” lens, our default sinful-nature view, will always push for dominance. Through the Spirit’s power, we have to choose God’s view in every situation in life.

Q. What areas do you think people in today’s culture have the hardest time choosing God’s lens in?

Q. What area(s) do you have the hardest time choosing God’s lens in?

2. Challenge

Romans 6:1-2 [NLT]  “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

Serving God is a constant series of choices to use His lens instead of ours. Every new topic is a new battleground, but the longer we fight, the better we get at choosing God’s way.

Q. What’s an area that used to be a me vs. God lens struggle for you, but has improved?

Q. What’s an area that’s still a contested battle? God doesn’t expect perfection, but He does expect persistence. Don’t give up! Keep fighting to use God’s perspective!

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for redeeming your Spirit and giving you access to a better way to see the world. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to choose His way in every situation in life.

Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Helping Others

1. Power Verse

Psalms 82:3-4  “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

What’s Up: “God wants us to share His love, and help others in every way we can!”

In this week’s lesson we learned that God loved us so much, that He gave His son Jesus to die for us.  He wants us to do everything we can to share His love all around the world.  One of the ways we can do that is by giving to BGMC, (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge.)

2. Discussion

Q. In what ways has God blessed our family?

Q. What are some ways that we can share the things He has given us?

Q. Why is it important that we try to help others?

God has blessed us with many things, like a great church, a wonderful family, a home, food, and so much more.  We have a lot of friends and family that could help us out if we needed something. He expects us to help boys, girls, and families that don’t have friends to help out.  

3. Challenge

The kids at our church are working with BGMC to help boys and girls at a school in Thailand.  

Q. What can you tell me about these kids and their school?

Q. What are 3 things that we can do together this week, to help meet our kids church missions giving goal?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for the children at the Shang Rai Christian School in the mountains of Thailand.  Ask God to keep them safe and that the missionaries and teachers would be a great blessing to them.  Pray that our kids would be excited about giving to missions, and God would give them creative and fun ideas to meet our BGMC goal to pay for all the kids to attend the school for one year.